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The X-Meridian 7.1 Thread - Page 70

post #2071 of 2138
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post #2072 of 2138
Hey guys,

I've been searching for the past week for a way to lower the output voltage of the XM. I currently run the XM directly into a DIY class D amp, and I'm currently unable to have the volume at more than 1% in alsamixer (yup, I'm running Linux, not windows) before it's way too loud.

I've spend the last few days reading through all of this thread and as I see it I basically have 3 options (a few of which have been mentioned but it seems only as theory crafting of with not much detail):
  1. Change the gain on the OAMPs to lower the output voltage
  2. Completely bypass the output stage and drive the amps directly from the DAC
  3. Add some in-line attenuation (I'm guessing at ~9dB to halve the voltage) to the interconnects (and this was my first easy option, but not so neat idea)

If anyone has performed either 1 or 2 I'd love to hear about what they did and anything I should be aware of, such as:
  • Any suggestions on what value resistors I should use to lower the OAMP gain
  • Any sketches on what the various resistors are (I'll admit that I haven't pulled the card yet to start tracing the schematic)
  • If I bypass the output stage completely and drive directly from the DAC is there anything my amp needs or has to protect against?

Ian AS, I note that you've built your own output stage. That's a little further than I'd want to go, I'm running on an ION board and don't have huge amounts of space to play with.

Of note, I saw a 2G on ebay the other day and snapped it up cheap (assuming it is a 2G), does anyone know if these cards suffer from the hot outputs?

Thanks in advance,
~Dan
post #2073 of 2138
Hi Dan,

• I have very sensitive amps, 150Watts for 0.75Volts input. I ran attenuators at the amplifier end of the leads consisting of a series 10k and about a 1k shunt to earth. I used Vishay bulk foils so as to do the minimum damage to the signal path. Not sure now what dB cut that is. I'd probably use 5k now. Don't know why I used 10k, probably already had them for something else. For neatness and ease, you could just as well fit them inside the amplifier case. Or maybe even to the amp input; possibly fit the 5k series and cut the (often 47k) resistor to earth to some like a 500Ohms? Don't know if there's any reason why that is not a good idea. It would change the relationship with an input capacitor to earth.

Having the resistors at the source end of the lead can attenuate the bass and treble.

• Now, I'm changing the gain of the op-amp. Planning to change the two first series resistors from 2k7 to 3k3. Mainly because I have them already, Vishays again If the maths are correct, that lowers the gain from about 3.5 to about 3. However, if you use 4k7 that lowers it to about 2.4.

You'll also need to change the capacitor that follows the two first resistors. 434pF goes with 4k7, as best as I can work out anyway. Farnell do a 430pF FSCEX extended foil polystyrene capacitor.

However I just bought 680pF for the 3k3. A shade high really, 620pF equates to the filter slope that Auzentech used.

I'm doing it this way as I want to delete the surface mount parts an already have the Vishays in near values. Another way to drop the gain would be to just change the feedback and balancing SM resistors. They are 6k8. You could go to 2k7 I guess to really cut it to no gain; just the normal 2Vrms output as far as I can make out from the data sheet, or chose a value somewhere in between. You might want to match the resistance value of the resistors you use.

• Option 2 carries the risk of destroying the DAC from an over current condition, eg, short circuit. Output resistors might be sufficient, don't know what value, the data sheet may be helpful for that. The leads will probably pick up quite a bit of RFI and you might need to do better filtering. Maybe use an instrumentation style balanced line receiver as they can cut the common mode better. Or take the filtered balanced lines to XLRs for a balanced output if you're driving a long lead to your amp(s). Or be more committed, dispense with the connectors and solder the leads at both ends

I'm planing to fit Vishays for all the resistors and FSCEX for the caps. Much of it is not too hard and can go under the op-amp on the solder side of the board around and under the 0.33uF // 22nF. Four resistors have to go on top beside the op-amp, two on each side, which will be tight but I think do-able. Four resistors and the two 680pF cap will go where the 4 DC blockers once were. Also tricky. we damaged some of the solder pads when taking off those OE caps.

This is phase one. I can then run the card as it is and see, with it's standard output tracks inc the tiny RLC filter parts and what it sounds like and how much I get from the Vishays.

Then onto phase two which is the fit, onto the solder side, a pair of LME49600 buffers, ostensibly to provide a low output impedance to drive my headphones. This may or may not be an improvement with respect to driving the line to the amplifiers. It is another chip in the signal path, all be it a reasonably good one, but I'll be able to miss out that 200 Ohm output resistor which I found in the past is sonically a good move. There might be a better line driver, maybe a discrete circuit; I'm sifting DIY Audio.com for info.

I have a hand written schematic I reverse engineered from the board. I took off some of the surface mount components to measure their value. Yesterday I sketched out the track layout so I could work out how to fit the much much larger components in place. It's not in a form that I can upload yet, but I intend to draw it out better in case it's proves useful to anyone
post #2074 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.pool View Post

Of note, I saw a 2G on ebay the other day and snapped it up cheap (assuming it is a 2G), does anyone know if these cards suffer from the hot outputs?

Why should they? I hadn't read of that fault. The 2G looks to be exactly the same but with the layout perhaps improved a bit. Same op-amps, so same heat as original? Have they up'd the ± voltage to the op-amps?
post #2075 of 2138
Ah, just remembered, I've been wanting to say since an early page in this thread that "the big capacitor" IS NOT THE PSU ONE!!

It's a time delay supply for the muting transistors keeping them on for a while as the card is shutting down and has powered off so as to stop any noises or large DC offset during power down After that they stop shunting signal to earth and noises start Would be better, but more expensive, with relays that stayed off when the card was off.
post #2076 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian AS View Post

Why should they? I hadn't read of that fault. The 2G looks to be exactly the same but with the layout perhaps improved a bit. Same op-amps, so same heat as original? Have they up'd the ± voltage to the op-amps?

Ian,

Thanks for the reply above, I'll have to chew through that later, my brain isn't in the right gear at the moment, but thanks I'm guessing the 4k7 and the 430 cap would do just fine.

My comment about the hot outputs? The original X-Merridian outputs around 5Vrms at full volume which is quite a bit more than standard. My amp is nowhere near as sensitive as yours but will manage 100W @ 1.5V input, partly why I'm looking to lower the gain for the XM.

I'd noticed that the cards look very similar, so I'd wondered if the 2G also had hot outputs. The interesting thing is that Auzentech made a big thing of the 5Vrms output on the XM, but I can't find anything about the output voltage with the 2G.

Anyway, the 2G is essentially back up which will allow me to play with the XM and a solder gun ... I've been looking at the pictures of your mods and am feeling rather inspired
post #2077 of 2138
You need to go to the hardware store (or, ugh!, HomeDepot) and get some alcohol and acid brushes.... clean up all that sloppy resin flux - it'll alter the sound somewhat! (not to mention continue corroding the leads and runs)

post #2078 of 2138
I do agree that it looks very ugly but I think it won't corrode I use TRT Wondersolder, apparently it's not corrosive flux. I've been using it since possibly 1993 and none of the items from back then have visible signs of corrosion.

Anyway there's more soldering to do to that before I'm finished. On customers stuff I tend to use one of the proper flux removers such as Chemtronics Flux off, but I don't like breathing the fumes.

Also, I don't want to be rubbing away at those tiny track ends. They are damaged and some are lose. I don't want to make it worse.
post #2079 of 2138
Schematic and layout.

I've made a mistake in the sketch at the bottom left of the page of where the new components could go. It's where the 6k8 joins the 11k; it should be before it. And also where one of the 100pFs joins it's 11k not the -ve pin. I seem to be able to see it better on the screen that on the bit of paper!
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post #2080 of 2138
Hello Guys and XM G2 owner

I have a simple question to the XM G2 driver.

Do the driver an automatic up mix to 5.1, when stereo is played?

I'm using Windows 7 and a 5.1 setup, I want stereo sources automatic up mixed to 5.1 and 5.1 source play as 5.1. Is that possible?


Thanks in advanced!
post #2081 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedNewSoundCard View Post
Hello Guys and XM G2 owner

I have a simple question to the XM G2 driver.

Do the driver an automatic up mix to 5.1, when stereo is played?

I'm using Windows 7 and a 5.1 setup, I want stereo sources automatic up mixed to 5.1 and 5.1 source play as 5.1. Is that possible?


Thanks in advanced!
Hey,

I'm afraid that I can't properly answer your question as I use my XM cards in HTPCs running Linux and the feature I believe you are after is proprietary and isn't available to me.

That said though, I'm pretty sure that this question has been asked on this thread before and the answer is a tentative yes.

From what I understand the windows drivers for the XM cards will upmix content to 5.1 if you set the driver to use DTS Live (?). What I can't say for sure though what it will do if it's given 5.1 content. I should imagine that it leaves it alone and just processes it as normal.

Hope that helps.

As an update on my situation. The 2G card arrived from eBay and was a 2G. It seems to have some Nichicon Muse capacitors on the output side of the oamps. I've seen these compared to the Blackgates so wonder what they will bring to the package.

The rest of the caps around the oamp are SMD and are so small I can't read what they are (at least not without digging out some magnification). My concern is that the cost of the Nichicon have been offset by using some cheaper ceramic caps. Which may well reduce any benefit the lower ESR Nichicon's would bring.

Having read through the manual, I can confirm that the outputs for the 2G are rated at 3Vrms, so whilst still not a reference 2Vrms, they aren't as hot as the XM outputs (Actually, I think that it was CD players that brought the line-level to 2Vrms and before that a pre-amp would only take a turntable/tuner's millivolt output to 1Vrms ... still though, I'm still learning here and perfectly happy to be corrected).

The bad news for me though is that the card is taller than the XM by around 5mm or so. It doesn't seem like much, but basically means I can't fit it in my HTPC's custom enclosure, so apart from putting it into my gaming rig and testing each channel with headphones, I've not had a chance to listen to it over the XM.

I should imagine that others would perform a far better listening test than I anyway

Pants, waited too long on ordering the FSCEX 430pf caps, Farnell is out
post #2082 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.pool View Post
Nichicon Muse capacitors on the output side of the oamps.
These are probably DC blockers and best deleted. Check the DC offset first.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.pool View Post
compared to the Black Gates
They are not in any way comparable. The BG's are 100 times faster using electron transfer rather than ionic transfer that all ordinary electrolytics use.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.pool View Post
so wonder what they will bring to the package
They're better then the cack they put in the original X-M but they'll still ruin it. Get rid of 'em.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.pool View Post
caps around the oamp are SMD
And don't have writing on. Just the resistors that do. Looks like there are some Tantalum there. Tants have a high impedance. But might be a bit of an improvement over what went before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.pool View Post
waited too long on ordering the FSCEX 430pf caps, Farnell is out
I expect they'll be back in quite soon. Maybe I could sell you my pair. I just bought some 680's I think it was, to go with the 3k3's. Need to just make sure it doesn't cut the treble with those values.
post #2083 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.pool View Post

Hey,

I'm afraid that I can't properly answer your question as I use my XM cards in HTPCs running Linux and the feature I believe you are after is proprietary and isn't available to me.

That said though, I'm pretty sure that this question has been asked on this thread before and the answer is a tentative yes.

From what I understand the windows drivers for the XM cards will upmix content to 5.1 if you set the driver to use DTS Live (?). What I can't say for sure though what it will do if it's given 5.1 content. I should imagine that it leaves it alone and just processes it as normal.

Hope that helps.

Thanks dan.pool.

I was searching the forum and didn't find the exact answer, so I decided to ask here. The behavior I'm looking for is the same under Windows XP, but since vista it stops working (known problem). So I need a soundcard that can handle this.
post #2084 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedNewSoundCard View Post
Hello Guys and XM G2 owner

I have a simple question to the XM G2 driver.

Do the driver an automatic up mix to 5.1, when stereo is played?

I'm using Windows 7 and a 5.1 setup, I want stereo sources automatic up mixed to 5.1 and 5.1 source play as 5.1. Is that possible?


Thanks in advanced!
Anyone else who have the same setup?

I'm really need that info, cause I don't wanna buy and try (and fail).

Thanks guys!
post #2085 of 2138
Neeto has the new driver working with the original XM you could PM him and ask
post #2086 of 2138
Hello,

How I can better the digital sound of the X-Meridian (1G)?


For analogue sound, at this moment I'm using the Opamp LM4562. Exist any other opamp better than this? I'm looking for the BEST SOUND possible. No matter the price.


I'm thinking buy the new X-Meridian (2G). In your opinion is better than the first?

One of the problems of X-Meridian is the cables. We must use mini-jack to RCA cable. And you don't have real good cables. Other cards allow use AES interface...


Regards,
post #2087 of 2138
Hi,

Please read my, and many other, posts above this one regarding improving this sound card
post #2088 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian AS View Post

Hi,

Please read my, and many other, posts above this one regarding improving this sound card

Hi,

I read a lot of posts to better the XM (G1). However I didn't found nothing about to better the digital output.

You know anything about this?

I made the following test:
- Audio Reseach CD player connected to a Devialet DAC/Amplifier;
- My HTPC connected to a Devialet DAC/Amplifier;
- Playing the same songs;
- Using the same coaxial cables (Yes we test with DIGITAL OUTPUT);

At the end everyone prefer the Audio Research. I don't understand why. Because who makes the DAC is the Devialet. Any reason?


Regards,
post #2089 of 2138
I did do some testing with the SPDIF outputs.

I had a DAC that also accepted USB input.

USB to the DAC was better than co-axial or optical SPDIF from the X-Meridian direct to the DAC.

Also USB was better than USB via a USB to SPDIF converter that gave either co-axial or optical SPDIF to the DAC.

Previously I've found that different optical cables make a difference to the sound, glass multistrand was better with the best glass and highest number of strands being best of all. And

With electrical digital cables the sound is better the shorter they are. Optical has usually sounded better than electrical SPDIF.

What country are you in? Do you have mains earth? Is it direct to the sub-station or into stakes under or beside your property? Try using a very thick mains lead with a Wattgate connector to supply the HTPC and also try separately connecting the computer chassis to earth.

I, and friends, use a 10mm2 Twin and Earth mains lead to the PC from a dedicated Hi-Fi mains spur and have tried both low and high price IEC connectors into the PC, the is a LOT of difference to be had in the sound quality.

Earthing the PC chassis also can made a small or large difference, either way, an improvement.

With the UK ATX PC's at least, all the earthing, Mobo, sound card, PSU, connects DIRECT to the chassis and the IEC earth pin.

Even the Wattgate is nowhere near good enough, a captive lead is much better, so a supplementary earth screwed direct to the chassis makes a better electrical connection.
post #2090 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neeto View Post

Hi,

I can confirm that the new second gen drivers can be made to work with the first gen cards.
You can't use the standard install as it only works for 2nd gen cards.
But you can install driver directly.

Many thanks Neeto for the info. I had the Razor Barracuda software installed, so I uninstalled it and deleted the driver. I then manually installed the driver as you described. Since I had no panel to change any settings, I ran the new 2G installer, and everything went fine, the new C-media panel works.
My only question is, since I have a 6.1 setup (single back speaker), will the 7.1 output option work correctly?
post #2091 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by HD-Laserdisc View Post

Many thanks Neeto for the info. I had the Razor Barracuda software installed, so I uninstalled it and deleted the driver. I then manually installed the driver as you described. Since I had no panel to change any settings, I ran the new 2G installer, and everything went fine, the new C-media panel works.
My only question is, since I have a 6.1 setup (single back speaker), will the 7.1 output option work correctly?

2 approaches
1. The "Card" approach
2. The software "Enhancements" approach.

First the "Card" approach

If you set Vista/Win 7 speaker setup to 7.1 and set the 8 Ch mode in the control pannel you basically have 8 channels of pass through.
The problem comes when you to try to up mix or down mix to 6.1
i.e. 2 CH Stereo to 6.1 - this is not automatic
In windows 7 it does not do auto in fill like XP (mostly)

If Win 7 & "System Input" is on Oxygen HD Audio Configuration control pannel is set to 2 CH then you have various ways of doing the up mixing "7.1 Virtual".
But this 2 CH setting mean that ONLY 2 channels can be sent to the card.
So if you're like me and you move back and forward between 2 channels music, 2 channels TV, 5.1 channels movies, 5.1 channel TV and 7.1 movies I don't bother and just leave it a 8 channels.

So much for the "card" approach.

The "Enhancement" approach requires getting the Win 7 "enhancement" that come with other drivers, specifically the Realtek enhancements and standard Microsoft sound processing enhancements turned on for the X-Meridian.
I've done this & it works, but takes a bit of messing around.
With this I have "Speaker Fill" & "Channel Phantoming" set.
This basically up mixes stereo to my 5.1 set up and down mixes 7.1 to 5.1.
It is really important to get the speaker set up in Win 7 Control Pannel Sound dialog set correctly i.e. 3.1, 5.1, 7.1 and the value in the Oxygen HD Audio Configuration control pannel i.e 4 Ch, 6 Ch or 8 CH set correctly.

See these two posts.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...7#post10321557

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...1#post10329741
post #2092 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedNewSoundCard View Post

Anyone else who have the same setup?

I'm really need that info, cause I don't wanna buy and try (and fail).

Thanks guys!

See above post - it's possible, but not use the card drivers, only using the "enhancement" approach
post #2093 of 2138
Thought it could be useful for anyone wanting to try it. It's some custom drivers originally intended for Asus Xonar, but according to the programmer it should work on X-Meridian 1G and 2G(with the C-Media Audio Panel).

Haven't tried it yet with my X-Meridian 1G, but planning to do very soon, as Cmedia drivers give me various problems when using ASIO.

brainbit.wordpress.com/author/painside/
post #2094 of 2138
I picked up a 2G version a couple of weeks ago, and it's looking all good on the playback side.

But I when I recently tried the line-in input in order to try some analog recordings I noticed that the level is very low (compared to the line-in input on the motherboard, which I'd used to set to somewhere between 30 and 50% (for a similar input signal originating from my AVR).
Is this normal? Did anybody else play with this input (I haven't really seen a lot of postings referring to line-in at all). The way it looks now, I will have to skip on this input and use the onboard input instead.
post #2095 of 2138
Thanks for a nice thread. I have a couple of questions about using the analogue outputs. Maybe some of them have already been answered but it's not always so easy to find old replies.

I'm trying this card right now and must say that the sound quality is very good, but, the software is a joke. I can't choose stereo sound to go out as 2.1 and 5.1 to go out as 4.1. Only 2.0, 4.0, 5.1 and 6.1 are possible :S

I have a 4.1 system. For 5.1 (AC3, DTS, HD etc.) I guess some codec will fix 4.1 but I think the card's software should do it. When it comes to music, at least in Spotify you don't have any conf like 2.1 so I need it in the software of the card, but it's not there :S
post #2096 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by csgve View Post

Thanks for a nice thread. I have a couple of questions about using the analogue outputs. Maybe some of them have already been answered but it's not always so easy to find old replies.

I'm trying this card right now and must say that the sound quality is very good, but, the software is a joke. I can't choose stereo sound to go out as 2.1 and 5.1 to go out as 4.1. Only 2.0, 4.0, 5.1 and 6.1 are possible :S

I have a 4.1 system. For 5.1 (AC3, DTS, HD etc.) I guess some codec will fix 4.1 but I think the card's software should do it. When it comes to music, at least in Spotify you don't have any conf like 2.1 so I need it in the software of the card, but it's not there :S

If you're using Vista or Windows 7 it's not the card that does the up mixing but the windows sound system BEFORE it gets to the card. See previous posts on how to get various software set up for this card that will do the upmixing that you want.
In short the if you've got 5.1 speakers, then set the number of channels to 6 in the software drivers and set 5.1 in the setup of windows.
Then use the windows sound enhancements to do the up mixing.
post #2097 of 2138
This person wants to use 2.1 or 4.1.

Not 5.1.

Can you set the number of speakers to 3 or 5? Last time I looked I couldn't.

I am still using XP and haven't tried to get the software thing of the last few posts done.

Edit: in fact I just looked again and it's only 2, 4, 6 or 8.
post #2098 of 2138
Quote:
Originally Posted by csgve View Post

I'm trying this card right now and must say that the sound quality is very good, but, the software is a joke. I can't choose stereo sound to go out as 2.1 and 5.1 to go out as 4.1. Only 2.0, 4.0, 5.1 and 6.1 are possible :S - I have a 4.1 system. For 5.1 (AC3, DTS, HD etc.) I guess some codec will fix 4.1 but I think the card's software should do it. When it comes to music, at least in Spotify you don't have any conf like 2.1 so I need it in the software of the card, but it's not there :S

I'll agree the drivers are pathetic, for such a quality card. I guess your best bet is something flexible, like the ffdshow audio decoder. You could set for example, the card to output 5.1 with Dolby Pro Logic II, and then use ffdshow for the final 4.1 downconversion output.
post #2099 of 2138
If you use bass management and set you speakers to small (flexbass), then the subwoofer is used. Thus you basically use 2.1 for stereo sources.

BTW, one queston about the driver. I recently tried wasapi exclusive playback (with foobar) and noticed that stereo gets played through all my 5 Speakers (analog out). This does not happen, when I use "regular" playback. Is this a driver issue and/or is there a workaround?
post #2100 of 2138
Maybe I can use this card afterall =) I will look into ffdshow for 4.1 and flexbass for 2.1. I have tried the flexbass but it's not allways so easy to hear the difference between 2.0 and 2.1, depening on what music is on.

Thank you both laserdisc and rico!
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